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rthritis refers to inflammation of a joint and is a term used for more than 140 conditions that can affect your joints. Joint pain, stiffness, swelling, and reduced movement are the most common symptoms of arthritis. Arthritis is more common as you age, however it can affect people of all ages. It is most common in weight-bearing joints such as the knee, hip and spine but can also affect the fingers and toes as your skin and internal organs.
You are more at risk of getting arthritis if you are overweight, older, or have played a lot of contact and physical sports. Children can develop arthritis which is known as juvenile idiopathic arthritis.
Leave Chronic Pain Behind
What causes arthritis?
The causes of many types of arthritis are not fully known and understood. It is believed that most forms of arthritis are caused by a fault in the immune system that causes the body to attack its own tissue in the joints.
Arthritis is also thought to be passed on genetically so it may be something you inherit from your parents or grandparents.
What are the symptoms of arthritis?
Each different type of arthritis has different symptoms. The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis. Symptoms of osteoarthritis include:
• Pain – the affected joints might hurt during or after movement
• Loss of flexibility
• Grating sensation
• Bone spurs
These symptoms are also common across other types of arthritis including rheumatoid arthritis and gout.
Pain caused by arthritis can lead to other issues including mental health problems such as anxiety or depression and it is important to seek medical advice if you think that arthritis is having a detrimental impact on other areas of your life.
Types of arthritis
Whilst there are many different types of arthritis, the three main types that are most common include:
• Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis and usually affects the 50-plus age group. It involves a change to the protective cushion of the cartilage covering the ends of your bones, where the two bones meet to form a joint.
• Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition and can start at any age but usually occurs between the ages of 20 and 55.
• Gout arthritis causes sudden attacks of pain in some joints. It can affect any joint, but the first attack usually affects your big toe or another part of your foot. If not treated, gout can become chronic, causing damage to your joints and bones.
Other less common types of arthritis include spondyloarthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, and juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA).
Many people with arthritis don’t have major mobility problems and early diagnosis can ensure that you manage the condition effectively, helping to reduce joint damage and improve your overall pain management.
How can arthritis be treated?
The treatment for arthritis will depend on how severe the pain is and the type of arthritis you have. As there are different types of arthritis, it is important to get a diagnosis before starting treatment. In general, treatments can include:
• Physical and occupational therapy
• Medications and supplements
• Diet and exercise
• Ice and heat therapy
• Surgery may also be an option such as hip and knee replacements.
There are some self-care treatments that can help such as regular exercise, relaxation techniques, diet, and weight management.
Having a good understanding of your condition will help you know about your treatment options and why exercise and other self-management methods are important.
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